Written by Lillian
October 13, 2022
Studying abroad in Europe, we find ourselves in the center of so many important arts. GTL’s own backyard is home to Metz which is rich in history. A quick train ride away houses all of Europe’s art museums, public sculptures, art performances, and architecture. However, these opportunities are often overlooked by the students at GTL. To remedy this problem, the Leonardo Program was created. The goal of the Leonardo Program is simple: to interest hyper-focused engineering students in the arts. Professor Sonia Serafin, a French teacher at GTL, tackles this goal by shocking students with the beauty of the arts and the positive influences they can have on science and engineering. Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci – one of the best examples of innovators blending art with STEM, Professor Serafin aims to interest students in the arts by organizing various events focused on art and history for them.
For example, a mere 20-minute walk from campus resides the Centre Pompidou Metz: a free-for-students museum of modern and contemporary art showcasing both temporary and permanent art installations. One of the exhibitions features Eva Aeppli, a Swiss painter and sculptor who focuses on human expression. Walking through her exhibit as part of the Leonardo Program was a unique experience. It included large crowds of hooded figures with fingers reaching out to touch those who passed by, sculpted pairs of scissors dangling from the ceiling, and a pin-drop silence which was cut by an eerie screech coming from a wooden wheel which raised and lowered a couch of mannequins from the ground. Eva’s art was profound and discomforting, which I believe was the desired effect. Starting on November 5th, a new art installation focusing on art in science fiction will open; I will be sure to visit given how much I enjoy the current exhibits.
The unsettling exhibit of Eva Aeppli
Another Leonardo Program event introduced us to the auditory arts: we were given reduced price tickets to see Madame Butterfly at the Metz Opera House. Madame Butterfly is an Italian Opera about unrequited love between a geisha and an American soldier in 20th century Japan. Throughout the three acts, we listened to the amazing soprano, Francesca Tiburzi, and tenor, Thomas Bettinger, belt out beautiful, narrative songs. I was amazed by their ability to sing for nearly three hours straight with minimal breaks.
Image courtesy of www.republicain-lorrain.fr
To cultivate our own art, a local artist is invited to the GTL campus once every week by the Leonardo Program to teach an art class focusing on sketching and drawing for all students. Additionally, the campus is home to a piano practice space for students to play in private. Communal events, such as a chess tournament, are planned to cultivate camaraderie between the FYSA, undergraduate, and graduate students.
A local Metz resident and chess teacher played the top 10 students from the chess tournament at the same time and won all 10 games.
Professor Serafin says one of her favorite things about this program is listening to the impact the arts had on each student. She loves hearing about a student’s first time at the Opera or about a student’s interaction with art over a weekend trip. She believes when students at GTL get in touch with their artistic side, they can allow creativity to influence their engineering side as well. When you mix STEM and art together, a broader variety of solutions to problems in both fields emerge. Professor Serafin says it best: “art touches you; I profoundly believe that life is richer with art”.